Tuesday, 6 November 2012

MUSICAL MEMORY #3 - Adorable

ADORABLE January 1991- November 1994 
Pete Fijalkowski - Guitar / Vocals, Robert Dillam -Guitar, Wil - Electric Bass Guitar Kevin Gritton - Drums
DISCOGRAPHY - 'See' (3 song demo), 'Sunshine Smile' (3 track 12" on money To Burn Records - unreleased) , 'Sunshine Smile' (Creation Single), 'I'll Be Your Saint' (Creation Single), 'Homeboy' (Creation Single), Sistine Chapel Ceiling (Creation Single), 'Against Perfection (Creation Album), 'Favourite Fallen Idol' (Creation Single), Fan Club 2 track acoustic cassette, 'Kangaroo Court' (Creation Single), 'Vendetta' (Creation Single), 'Fake' (Creation Album - ltd edition vinyl came with free 7" of alternate mixes of 'Man In A Suitcase' & 'Vendetta')

Within two pints of Adorable meeting Alan Mcghee for the first time in a pub in the centre of Coventry in January 1992, the conversation got quite heated when we asked him about the droppping of My Bloody Valentine from the label. Mcghee likened his relationship with MBV as that of a girlfriend and boyfriend, but said that he couldn't tell Kevin Shields face to face that his services were no longer required at Creation. I made Mcghee promise that if and when he came to drop Adorable from Creation he would have the guts to do so to my face. So was born an uneasy relationship between Adorable and Creation records, that was never really to thaw over the next two and a half years.

Changing our name from The Candy Thieves, and the new impetus from having a new band member in Robert, seemed to suddenly move things along. Within 6 months of our first gig under our new name (on the night that the first Gulf war started) the treks up and down the M1 to London seemed to be paying off & we landed ourselves a manager (the lovely Eddie who had had a stab at indie stardom in the fabulous Meat Whiplash who had released their one and only single in the early days of Creation), which meant I no longer had to spend quite as long feeding 10p's into the phonebox at the end of my road when ringing around labels. We got to record with Pat Collier, who was to later produce our debut album, and he pressed up a 3 track white label 12", which though never released, got a great review in the NME. 

Labels starting sniffing around. Rough Trade again came, and again went, but we lucked into the influential 'NME On For 92' gig at the end of the year which showcased 8 up and coming acts over 2 nights. PJ Harvey was headlining, and the gig was full of A&R types checking out the unsigned bands, which included us & Suede. We played our best ever gig to date that night, and when we came off I knew that if we didn't get a record contract that night we never would. The next morning Eddie rang to say he was getting offers left, right and centre and over the coming weeks we met many labels, including several majors who offered us deals, but in the end it came down to 2 labels -a toss up between Food Records (home of Blur) or Creation. We went with our hearts.
Things started promisingly enough. Our first single 'Sunshine Smile' got NME single of the week, lots of evening session play on national Radio One, #1 in the indie charts and three weeks in the national top 100 charts, but had we had the advantage of a crystal ball we would have seen that this was to be our UK high point, and that it would be downhill all the way from thereon. Perhaps it's just as well you can't see into the future.

"I'm going to come back soon in another life" (Vendetta)

Inspired by The Smiths, and by our own insatiable appetite for buying 7"s on a Saturday morning, we were eager to release lots of singles, and we set about releasing tracks as quickly as we could. 'I'll Be Your Saint' was perhaps a mistake as a second single, and helped to seal our fate in the eyes of the music press as 'arrogant bastards' (coupled with our own cak-handed attempts in interviews at distancing ourselves from the anti-image shoegazing movement), but Mcghee, who saw us as a punky Echo & the Bunnymen loved the idea of it ("It's rock n' roll Pete, it's rock n' roll - pure Iggy"). Whilst we could never understand why our third release 'Homeboy' (probably my favourite Adorable song) was overlooked, 'Sistine Chapel Ceiling' got us on the road back with another NME single of the week and a high Indie chart placing, in turn helping our debut LP 'Against Perfection' to a Top 75 spot in April 1993.

A 5 week American tour promised lots and won us many friends & fans, but we found ourselves caught in the middle of an argument between Creation and our US label SBK that had nothing to do with us, and any hopes of American success were dashed on the chess board of label politics, with us playing the role of a lowly pawn. We had hoped to escape the negative press tag that we had picked up in the UK, and arrived in the States full of hope - eager to start afresh in a country that as yet didn't really know that much about us, but to our horror we discovered that our American label had decided to market us as "Adorable - the band you love to hate". Each night at every  venue, we discovered with sinking hearts that enthusiastic college students working for SBK had plastered the venues with hundreds of posters with this slogan, and each night we died a little more inside. We had a great ending at an open air gig in Golden Gate Park where the police had to try and stop the surging crowd and the sell-out gig that night meant we left on a high.
We had other great times in Australia, Japan and across Europe, but on returning from promoting 'Against Perfection' we were a bit down, feeling that we had made as good an album as we could that we were really proud of, but that seemingly wasn't enough; the English press were at best indifferent (we hadn't been able to get an interview in the NME or Melody Maker since our debut single, though everyone seemed to think we were in every week), and our relationship with Creation (at best described as 'lukewarm') took a turn for the worst with the Sony takeover and Mcghee's subsequent breakdown, which left us without an ally at the label.

What we had to do was produce an album that would grab everyone by the proverbials, drag them into a darkened alleyway and either give them a kicking that would last a lifetime, or a damn good shag, or maybe both. Instead we recorded 'Fake'.

Whereas 'Against Perfection' (originally titled 'Against Creation', though dropped 24 hours before we had to submit the artwork as we were worried about pushing our relationship with the label) was the sound of 21 year olds who felt that life was there ahead of them, ready to be inhaled and enjoyed ('Glorious', 'Breathless'), 'Fake' is a frail, insular, insecure album, made by four guys who felt like the world was against them ('Kangaroo Court', 'Go Easy on Her', 'Vendetta'), and whose own relationships within the band were also being tested.  The song 'Radiodays' (though not especially a favourite of mine) pretty much sums up how I felt about the whole thing, with a poetic appearance of Mcghee in it to boot. ("A father figure put a gun in my hand and said, 'aim high, but don't aim for the sun son'. Blinded by my own beauty of course I did, but then that's my perogative... If it's all the same to you I want to crash my car my way."). It isn't a bad album, it's just it isn't a great one either.

Creation needed the figures to add up, and Adorable's didn't. Quite simply we didn't sell enough records for them, and the fact that there wasn't exactly a warm glow inside them when they thought about us as people made the decision easier. The 'dear John' phonecall came through to us in the glamorous setting of Colchester as we loaded in for a gig in late 1994. As poetic luck would have it our support band that day were The 60 Foot Dolls who had just that afternoon signed a lucrative publishing deal, and came into the venue clutching bottles of champagne, as we moped around in the suitably mournful setting of the converted church that is Colchester Arts Centre. Needless to say the call to say we were dropped didn't come from Alan Mcghee, or anyone from the label, but our long-suffering manager Eddie, so I never even got a phonecall from Alan, let alone the face to face as promised. Kevin Shields got one more phonecall than we ever got. Lucky Kevin Shields. Feeling as if we had taken a battering in the boxing ring, we called it a day after completing our European dates in late 1994 culminating in a glorious drunken night out in Brussels.

It was a rollercoaster of a ride over the two and a half years we were signed to Creation, with ecstatic highs and sickening lows but Wil, Kevin, Robert and myself all had the experience of a lifetime that has shaped who we are as people, and I think we are all better for it. Better to have loved and lost they say, than to have never loved at all.

We never did get to set the world alight, but we got as far as striking the match.